More than 50 major media organizations on Tuesday sent a letter to the Department of Justice protesting the seizure of two months of The Associated Press’ phone records and calling for the department to “mitigate the damage it has caused.”
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney James M. Cole, the organizations — which include POLITICO and Allbritton Communications Company — ask that the DOJ return the secretly subpoenaed phone records and explain how government lawyers “overreached so egregiously in this matter.”
It’s too soon to tell, of course. But there are some aspects of these stories that suggest they’re going to make more-than-medium-sized trouble for Obama.
To start with, while the particulars might be complicated, both stories are easily understandable to people who aren’t politics and news junkies. Here are the nubs: (1) The State Department intentionally obscured the truth about the death of an American ambassador weeks before a presidential election. (2) The IRS intentionally audited people and groups who opposed the president. Those are the take-home, headline versions of the stories and they’re pretty clear-cut.
Second, there’s still reporting to be done on both stories. We don’t know how much is left to be unearthed, but we do know that we haven’t touched bottom yet. How high up in the government did knowledge about the IRS’s activity go? And then why wasn’t it stopped? At the State Department, emails claimed that the “building’s leadership” wanted changes made to the CIA’s talking points memo. What and who, exactly, does that mean?
Not only do we not know the answers to those questions, but also the answers will probably prompt further queries.
White House press correspondents tell POLITICO that, from their perspective, the coming weeks will serve as a “moment of truth” for Carney, who faces the greatest test of his tenure to date. Three days into a changed environment in the briefing room, they say they admire how he has held his ground, deflecting reporters inquiries while at the same time maintaining the cool, no-drama demeanor that has long been a defining feature of the Obama White House.
But these are still the early days, the White House correspondents say, and the onslaught is unlikely to die down anytime soon.
“It’s an entirely different environment in that briefing room now,” Jon Karl, the ABC News White House correspondent told POLITICO. “Jay Carney’s job just got a lot more difficult. He’s facing incoming from all directions.”
“It’s not a briefing anymore, it’s a pounding,” former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. “The best thing he can do is take the position of piñata and enjoy it.”
If these scandals are indeed affecting the ideological landscape, this is bad news for liberals. It’s not just that the opposite ideology is getting some help from government bunglers, but the media is exacerbating the problem. Liberals believe that there is a role for government to play in mediating market failures, and there are plenty of stories of areas where the safety net is thinning as a result of sequestration—from cancer treatments to Head Start to Meals-on-Wheels—where government should step in. But those stories get lost in the scandal coverage of an administration, making it look like conservatives fundamentally understand something that liberals do not.
GREENWALD: It’s very tough times and, you know, that’s what I said, I don’t think anyone wants, you know, people who are Obama supporters or supporters of progressive policies, this is not gleeful jumping up and down, this is saying this is sad, this is painful, but we’ve got to speak the truth and we’ve gotta create pressure. And maybe, you know, one positive thing to think about is, think about what people in the immigrant community (have) done, and the LGB community. When they were not getting what they needed, they pushed back. It’s similar with civil liberties, it’s going to be similar with war, it’s going to be similar with drones. We need to push back on this. And sadly, there is a pattern and this happens with all presidents, whether you call it the military industrial complex or the national security state, which checks on 1.7 billion emails every day, think about that power. They have a tremendous impact and power on whosever president. And it’s our job as real patriots to push against that.
SCHULTZ: Well, you know, if somebody’s politically motivated, they can destroy people’s lives. They can, they can, they can destroy candidates, they can destroy people’s lives. I mean, this is almost like a secret society that’s operating here. And if this goes all the way to the president, it’ll be the end of Barack Obama, it will. If this goes all the way to the president, this could be, this could be his downfall.
FWIW coming from an a$$hole like me, yer doing a great job, Media. For the sake of your country, please carry on.
— John Nolte(@NolteNC) May 15, 2013
Via Greg Hengler.
Click the image to watch.